Friday, April 18, 2014

Dramatards Triathlon: Dramas - 3/40

Bride of the Century

Score: 8/10

          Choi Kang Joo is the sole heir of the highly successful Taeyang Corporation. He is selfish, cold, and rude to everyone including his fiance Jang Ki Kyung. She gets fed up with his behavior and runs away, sending her mother and brother into a panic. They discover a girl who looks identical to Ki Kyung to stand in for her until she returns. Na Doo Rim accepts the job because her grandmother needs an expensive surgery. Although identical, the two girls are as different as night and day. While pretending to be Ki Kyung, Doo Rim and Kang Joo slowly begin to fall for each other. However, Kang Joo's family is cursed and the first bride of the first son is doomed to meet an early demise.

       I was not expecting a lot from this drama, I hadn't heard much about it and only watched it because my cousin likes Lee Hong Ki. I was extremely surprised by how much I enjoyed it despite it's cliched ridden plot. Lee Hong Ki was decent as Kang Joo, I was afraid that he wouldn't perform the role well because I associate him so closely with his character from You're Beautiful. I loved Yang Ji Sung in this, her performance of two completely different characters was great and my personal favorite part of the drama. I liked the humor and Hong Ki had great chemistry with Ji Sung. Sadly, the drama did start to drag around episode 12 and lost a lot of the fun that was present in earlier episodes. The constant noble idiocy became somewhat annoying and unnecessary, further dragging the plot. I also didn't care for the development of the main relationship, Kang Joo and Doo Rim go from having a growing attraction to one another and constantly fighting to undying love.I was also not happy with some character inconsistencies, mainly the antagonist. In one scene the bad guy is screaming and plotting revenge but then wants to stop later in the same episode-it doesn't make sense and was also a problem I had with Secret Love. Overall I still liked the drama and it is worth watching but prepared for cliches and pacing issues.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

60 Day Asian Drama Challenge: Day 21

Your Least Favorite Asian Drama Actress?

                As I mentioned before, female roles in dramas tend to be the least well written  so it is hard to determine whether the actress or the character is to blame for a poor performance. I have seen actresses that I have hated in one role but love in another and in that case it is obviously the writing that is the culprit. 

Bae Suzy

          It is quite common for kpop stars to transition into acting roles and some are actually really talented (Park Yoo Chun, Yoon Eun Hye, etc). But truthfully most are not, which is the case here. I first watched Suzy in Dream High and I loved it-I enjoyed the story, music and characters. While Suzy's performance acting wise was by far the worst, it perfectly fit her character so it didn't detract too much from the overall enjoyment of the drama. I next watched her in Big, which wasn't a great drama but featured a decent performance by Gong Yoo. Suzy's character was basically identical to her Dream High performance except she didn't sing. I didn't dwell too much on it because the drama was already pretty flawed and she was just a supporting character. Suzy's performance in Gu Family Book is what drove home her lack of acting skills and placed her far above any other Asian drama actress that I disliked. Suzy was horribly miscast in GFB, a fantasy/period drama that required much more of her than her previous teen dramas/roles where she could get away with being stiff and relatively emotionless. Suzy is a shinning example of popularity overshadowing talent. I am in no way saying she is untalented, she has a decent voice and I like her group Miss A. I am simplying stating that when a kpop star wants to transition into acting that it may be a good idea to actually take acting lessons first.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Overview of Korean/Asian Drama Subscription Sites

Popularity in Asian dramas is growing and many streaming sites are available to watch them on. I am going to briefly review each site, discussing the positive and negative aspects of each one. I am only going to be discussing the paid subscription sites but there are a lot of free Asian drama streaming and torrent sites.

Monthly Price: $7.99

          Netflix is the primary reason why I got into Asian dramas. The first drama that I watched, Boys Over Flowers, was on Netflix and I then proceeded to watch most of the the ones that were available at the time. I eventually moved on to Hulu and other sites because Netflix didn't have a large selection. It is a good place to start since Netflix has a lot of the most popular dramas from the past six years including Boys Over Flowers, Secret Garden, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, My Princess, You're Beautiful, etc. I still use Netflix to watch movies (great selection of Foreign/Asian films) and American/British shows but I would look elsewhere if you really want a site mainly for Asian dramas.

Available on multiple devices
Many popular Korean dramas

Small selection of Korean dramas
Dramas are not available for long periods of time (they recently removed a large portion of dramas)
No other Asian dramas (Japanese, Taiwanese, etc)

Hulu Plus
Monthly Price: $7.99

        Hulu is a great site and has an enormous amount of Korean dramas, both new and old. I first used the site to watch Coffee Prince and Wild Romance, it was my main source for drama watching until I found some better ones. I would like Hulu much more if it wasn't for the commercials. I do not know of any other sites that you have to pay to use that forces you to watch commercials. In all honesty, I would solely use Hulu if there weren't commercials because of their massive kdrama options.

100+ Korean dramas
Nice selection of new and old dramas
Available on multiple devices

Lots of commercials
Small selection of Japanese, Taiwanese and Chinese dramas

Monthly Price: $9.99

       Unlike the aforementioned options, Drama Fever is a really great streaming site that is exclusively Asian dramas, movies and reality shows. They have over 100 dramas available and they sub newer dramas fairly quickly. Like Hulu and Viki, you can still use the site without paying but there is a longer wait for unsubscribed customers to watch subs and there are also commercials. DF also features articles, videos, and contests which are really fun. 

Large selection of Kdramas
Decent selection of Chinese/Taiwanese
Available on multiple devices

Movies are listed as an episode instead of a movie
Poor selection of Japanese dramas

Monthly Price: $3.99

             Viki is my favorite subscription streaming site. It has a lot of Asian dramas and moviesand also subs (adding English translations) new dramas within 24 hours. My favorite part of Viki is the drama commentary, usually added by subbers but now anybody can comment as well. It is a line of commentary at the top of the drama screen where people discuss or comment on actors/situations occurring in the drama. It is usually really funny and I will admit that it is  the only reason that I made it through some overly draggy dramas. I do have to occasionally turn it off, as was the case when I watched Reply 1994 and the commentary just consisted of people arguing/insulting the two male leads.  It is the cheapest subscription site although it was once free. The subbing is done by fans, subbers and segmenters do not have to pay for the site as well as exclusive access to certain features. You can use the site for free but you will have to watch some commercials. 

200+ Korean dramas
100+ Taiwanese dramas
300+ Chinese dramas
Extremely fast subbing of new dramas
Dramas from Philippines, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Vietnam, others
Large selection of new dramas and old dramas
Available on certain devices (Kindle, possibly Amazon Fire)

Doesn't always get the license for new and popular dramas
Poor selection of Japanese dramas


Monthly Price: $6.95

        is mainly an anime site but they also had a Korean drama section. I was going to discuss that site until I found out that they made a sister site completely dedicated to kdramas. is still pretty new but I signed up for a 30 day trial subscription to test out the site. It has a large collection of Korean dramas and will probably add more if the site is successful. I found a few dramas on KD that aren't available on any other streaming sites, paid or free. It has a lot of older dramas and some newer ones. While it does have some popular staples (Boys Over Flowers, Sam Soon), it is missing a lot of the ones commonly found on other sites. It has since been taken over my so it is now SoompiTV.

150+ Korean dramas and growing
Has older and harder to find dramas
Available on multiple devices

No dramas from other countries
Currently lacking some of the more popular dramas
Dramas listed under names different from other sites which can be confusing

There are a lot of options and the one you choose depends on your needs. Personally I would suggest Viki, Drama Fever, or SoompiTV as all three have a lot of content. Netflix is a good place to start and most people may already have an account. If you don't mind commercials, Hulu does have a nice selection.

*IMPORTANT* I am not affiliated with any of the aforementioned sites. I use/have used them either through paying a subscription or using a free trial. All opinions stated are mine and I tried to be as objective as possible.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

60 Day Asian Drama Challenge: Day 20

Your Favorite Drama OST (Instrumental)?

       I find that historical dramas tend to have the best instrumental soundtracks. The Princess' Man has a beautiful soundtrack, both vocal and instrumental, that really compliments the romance, action, and drama. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

60 Day Asian Drama Challenge: Day 19

Your Favorite Drama Genre

          I love a lot of Asian drama genres(themes of life, friendship, mystery, suspense, action, melo, law, historical, family and you) but my favorite is romance. Romance is usually the focus of most Asian dramas, which can be a good or bad thing. I am a helpless romantic and Asian dramas fulfill that need perfectly. I have found that after watching so many Asian dramas/films, that my perception of romance is much different than it was before. Upon re-watching American tv shows/ films, I have found that I don't find them as romantic as I once did. Romance in Asian dramas is my ideal-love and physical intimacy doesn't just happen, it is important and has meaning. Relationships are developed slowly and there is build up to romantic exchanges.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

60 Day Asian Drama Challenge: Day 18

Name A Drama You Dropped and Why?

        I don't drop dramas, I have a good number of dramas on hold but I will eventually finish them. I just have to finish dramas, even if they cause me physical pain. There are quite a few that I wanted to drop (Devil Beside You, Personal Taste, etc) but I feel like I can't properly rate or review something unless I finish it.

Friday, April 4, 2014

60 Day Asian Drama Challenge: Day 17

Favorite Drama Character?

Kim Joo Won

      After 2 years and 130+ dramas, Kim Joo Won remains my favorite drama character. Male leads in dramas are mostly pretty uniform regarding their personalities-rich, selfish, mean, cold, arrogant. Kim Joo Won fits this description perfectly but he somehow managed to still be a likable person. His character experienced amazing development over the course of the drama, making him all the more endearing. Joo Won may fit some of the male lead standards but his quirky personality and growth set him apart from the rest.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

60 Day Asian Drama Challenge: Day 16

Your Favorite Actress?

Shin Min Ah

      I fell hard for Min Ah after watching her in My Girlfriend is a Gumiho and I have since watched all her dramas and films. She is beautiful as well as a fantastic actress. My favorite of her works are MGIAG, Arang and the Magistrate, The Beast and the Beauty, and My Mighty Princess.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Least Favorite Dramas

       I have created a list of dramas that I disliked and wouldn't recommend to anyone. This is just my opinion based on my preferences which are entirely subjective. I realize that many of the dramas on this list are extremely popular and well loved but unfortunately I didn't care for them.

Devil Beside You

Score: 4/10

        I don't hate Taiwanese dramas but I would say that they tend to be my least favorite of of the main five Asian countries whose dramas I watch. Rainie Yang is main culprit here, her performance caused me physical pain. I didn't find her cute or funny but rather extremely annoying. It took me over a year to finish this drama because I hated it so much. Mike He was fine and I liked some of the supporting characters but it was pure torture watching this and I have avoided all Rainie's dramas since.

Personal Taste

Score: 4/10

       Here is another drama I disliked due to an annoying female lead, are you seeing a trend here? Park Kae In was stupid , not in a cute way but in a mentally handicapped kind of way. I was surprised that she didn't need help crossing the street or picking out her own clothes (er, nevermind).

Delightful Girl, Choon Hyang

Score: 5/10

       Most of the dramas on this list had horrendously written female leads but Delightful Girl is unique in that it had a extremely stupid and unlikable male lead, Lee Mong Ryong. It is amazingly easy to find terrible female characters but males are another story. The second male lead was a psycho stalker so I ended up shipping Choon Hyang to stay single, another first for me. My favorite character in the drama was Mong Ryong's dad, if that tells you anything.

Lie to Me

Score: 5/10

      Yoon Eun Hye tends to make either good dramas (Coffee Prince, Missing You), or really bad dramas (Lie to Me, Taking Care of the Young Lady). This is one of those dramas that you see used in a lot of Asian drama mvs and on a lot of favorites list. I will readily admit that the kiss scenes are amazing and the chemistry is fantastic between the leads but that's about it. The story isn't great and starts to drag pretty early on. Also, the characters are highly inconsistent which is a huge pet peeve of mine.

K-Pop: The Ultimate Audition

Score: 5.5

       This drama wasn't bad, not amazing but not bad. I liked the story about an upcoming kpop group and the different characters were fun. I liked the leads and the acting wasn't bad, although the kiss scenes left a lot to be desired. The problem was the ending, or lack thereof. This drama suffered from poor ratings so it was cut down from 16 episodes to 14. I completely understand that they may not have had enough time to properly end everything but they could have made a much more satisfactory finale then what they ultimately ended up with. Instead of trying to tie up a few story lines and give us the concert that they had built up for the entire drama, they gave us a very lukewarm ending. No concert was shown, no plots were wrapped up, nothing. To add insult to injury, they also decided to add more useless dramatic filler than do anything productive. It was incredibly lazy and made my entire perspective of the drama turn negative.


Score: 5.5/10

         Where do I even begin with this one? By far one of the worst dramas that was produced last year and I'm still trying to figure out how this went so horribly wrong. First and foremost, the writing was utterly and completely terrible-I have no idea how the same person that wrote Secret Garden wrote this travesty. Was she depressed? Was she high? Was she angry at the network or actors? The acting wasn't an issue here(except for every actor that was present in the American scenes) but the characters, similar to the story, weren't written well. Lee Min Ho and Park Shin Hye NEED to pick better and more varied roles, this drama is a prime example of how playing the same character over and over can become detrimental to one's career.

Playful Kiss

Score: 6/10

      Oh Ha Ni is one of the worst female leads that I have encountered thus far in dramaland. She's stupid, childish and probably should have been arrested for repeated and unlawful psycho stalking of Baek Seung Ju. She had no thoughts or interests outside of Seung Ju, her entire world revolved around him. Seung Ju wasn't much better, he treated her like crap even after they were married. I'm sorry but I found nothing cute or sweet about their entire relationship.

Twelve Men in a Year

Score: 6/10

       This drama had an interesting premise. a woman intends to sleep with a man each month representing a different zodiac sign in order to write about it for a magazine. But this premise gets dropped along the way and the story enters dragsville. And, as is a common thread in most of my disliked dramas, the female lead is horrible. Na Mi Roo is quite possibly one of the most annoying human beings on the planet, I have no earthly idea who thought her character would have even made a decent supporting role, much less a main lead. Her best friend Tanya is far more interesting and would have made a really fun lead, so of course she's just a secondary character. 

A Gentleman's Dignity

Score: 6/10

       Another popular drama that I didn't like, I promise it's not on purpose. Firstly I am not a fan of Kim Ha Neul at all, she is another actress that tends to play all her  characters the same and I found her more annoying than endearing in this one. Except Choi Yo On and Me Ah Ri, I didn't really like any of the other characters. The writing and story weren't bad but I just didn't find myself invested in most of the characters or their relationships.

Panda and Hedgehog

Score: 6/10

      This drama could have been great and out of all the others listed here, is one that I feel the most bad about including. It features one of the greatest bromances I have ever seen and a lot of great characters. Sadly, the Pan Da wasn't one of them. She started off as a typical stubborn female lead but around episode 5 her character did a 360 and became incredibly selfish and annoying. The story was also all over the place and started dragging big time by episode 11, only adding to my displeasure. Lee Dong Hae was great and deserved a better drama to showcase his talent. I also really loved Choi Jin Hyuk and Oh Yi Na, their characters were really funny and the highlight of the drama. Speaking of Yi Na as Won Yi, why are there so many wonderfully written secondary female lead characters? Why aren't female leads written like that? I would much prefer a quirky main lead than the numerous cookie cutter characters that we so often get stuck with.

Dramas I'm Currently Watching: Spring 2014

Wild Chives and Soy Bean Soup

Progress: 3/50

      High school students Yoo Joon Soo and Jang Kook get married but the opposition from both of their families causes them to break up. The two grow up and take different directions in life, ultimately running into each other again 12 years later.

        I am still very early into the series so I can't have that much of an opinion yet but so far I do like it. The younger versions of the main characters are great but I have seen a lot of dramas where the younger cast is amazing but the adult counterparts fail to do them justice (Moon Embracing the Sun comes to mind). I like it at the moment and will continue to watch.


Secret Love Affair

Progress: 6/20

     Oh Hye Won is a woman in her 40's who holds a directing position at the Seohan Arts Foundation - she spends her time planning events, teaching and resolving the personal  problems of her higher ups. She is married to Kang Joon Hyeong, a pianist and teacher more dedicated to his work than his wife.  Lee Sun Jae is a man in his 20's who works as a courier but is also a talented pianist. Joon Hyeong, hoping to make the young man his student, asks Hye Won to evaluate Sun Jae's skills. These meetings pull the two closer together and they eventually begin a passionate affair.

      I am really enjoying this one, it is very different than any other currently airing dramas and I am hooked. This drama is slower paced and more mature than your average kdrama, which is part of the attraction for me. The music and cinematography are amazing and really add to the overall atmosphere. Yoo Ah In is killing it as Sun Jae, the character is wonderful and his chemistry with the female lead is off the charts. I fell hard for Ah In when I first watched him in Sungkyunkwan Scandal, he was my favorite character in the show. I skipped over his starring role in Fashion King because I heard a lot more negative reviews than positive ones and I am not feeling masochistic enough to put myself through that torture. I also really liked him as the king in Jang Ok Jung, an underrated drama that was quite good.

Bride of the Century

Progress: 12/16

      Choi Kang Joo is the sole heir to the Tayang corporation - he is cold, insensitive, mean, and has little interest in others. His fiance, Jang Yi Kyung, gets fed up with his abusive treatment and runs away. Her mother and brother panic until they find a young woman, Na Doo Rim, who looks identical to Yi Kyung and is willing to take her place until the real fiance returns. Despite their identical appearance, Doo Rim is completely opposite to Yi Kyung in every way. Her bubbly and stubborn personality eventually melts the cold exterior of Kang Joo, who is completely unaware of her true identity. But his wealthy family carries a dark secret, a 100 year old curse that takes the life of the first wife of the first son.  

       This is probably my favorite drama that I have yet to watch this year but it is still early. The plot is interesting and I love Doo Rim, she is a really fun character and brings a lot of charm and humor to the drama.  She is beginning to experience a bit of Ha Ji Won syndrome (a female character that starts out strong and interesting but becomes weaker) toward the end of the drama but hopefully she snaps out of it soon. I wasn't expecting a lot from Lee Hong Ki as Kang Joo because I always picture him as Jeremy from You're Beautiful but he is doing well as the stereotypical cold, rich male lead.  

A Well-Raised Daughter

Progress: 15/120

      Jang Ha Na is the youngest child of the eldest son of a famous soy sauce family that’s been making soy sauce for hundred of years. She has to pretend to be a man in order to inherit the company because the family requires a representative for their soy sauce business. Ha Na's mother produced only daughters which caused a sore spot with the father-in-law. A conniving woman got Ha Na's father drunk and slept with him, producing a male child. Ha Na's father died shortly after and her mother and sisters were ousted from their home by the mistress. Ha Na's mother gave birth to her and decided to raise her and dress her as a male to to revenge and take her rightful inheritance.

        I admit it, I am a sucker for gender benders. I absolutely love them and plan to watch as many as I can and hopefully rank them one day. This is a longer drama (120 episodes to be exact) and they can be either hit or miss. I have been lucky to have pleasant experiences with the few that I have watched but I know many more that I have heard can get really draggy and contain lots of filler no necessary to the story. I am enjoying this one so far and I hope it continues to be interesting. I have already felt like murdering a few characters in the most slow and painful way possible (the mistress and her mother) but I like the main character a lot. She does not look masculine at all but she behaves like a man and is very intelligent. This could definitely be a contender for one of my favorites for the year if the story and characters stay consistent.

Full House

Progress: 18/20

         This is a Thai remake of the popular Korean drama by the same name. Aom-am is a food critic/photography who lives with her older sister in a large house left to her by her father. Aom-am's sister and her boyfriend run into financial difficulties so they hatch a plan to send Aom-am to Korea for a vacation so they can sell the house in her absence. Aom-am meets a selfish Thai superstar named Mike and his best friend Guy while in South Korea.  Mike ends up buying Aom-am's house and eventually allows her to stay in the house as long as she cooks and cleans for him. Through a series of misfortunes (including Mike's friend Mintra turning down his affections), the two end up in a fake marriage. A love square forms between Mike, Aom-am, Guy and Mintra.

       I am not as familar with Thai dramas but I haven't really liked the few that I have started. They tend to be very dramatic, similar to a Spanish or typical American soap opera. Thankfully, this drama is really good. I have seen both versions and I like them both equally, although for different reasons. The are a lot of sweet and funny moments in Full House and I haven't found the story to be draggy. I will say that I am not a fan of sound effects used when something funny happens but I also really hate American sitcoms that use laugh tracks, it kind of takes me out of the moment and becomes increasingly more annoying with each use. I am close to finishing this drama so I will probably do a more in depth review at some point but I do really like this Thai drama and highly recommend it.

Sweet Sweet Bodyguard

Progress: 25/82

      Zhen Ai Jia is a very strong and highly trained female bodyguard. She was raised by a strict and militant father from a young age after her mother died. Ai Jia longs to be an ordinary young girl who is wants to fall in love. She decides that she will start living her life as she chooses after her next mission which will also be her last one. Her new client is He Zhong-Qi, a CEO of a famous vehicle company. He is a very difficult person and the two constantly fight while Ai Jia tries her best to complete her most difficult assignment. 

       I became interested in this Taiwanese drama from 2012 when I read the synopsis, it sounded a bit like the Korean drama Wild Romance  which I really enjoyed. I am not the biggest fan of Taiwanese dramas because the humor can be somewhat annoying at times, such as the constant exaggerated facial expressions.  It is still a bit early to tell, but I like the two main leads and their developing friendship. I absolutely hate Cai Jie (Ai Jia's best friend), I tend to fast forward whenever she is on the screen. The actress is terrible even by Taiwanese standards and the character is just as annoying. I also don't care for Zhong Qi's younger sister Qin Ming Yu, another whiny character who I prefer to have as little screen time as possible.